I used to be a Google fanboy (my wife is still a Google fangirl). I used to sing their praises and recommend their software and services to anyone who asked for the slightest computer advice. But lately I’ve been rethinking my stance on Google and have started moving in other directions.
So what did Google do that has put me off? They started sucking at what they used to do best. We’ve known all along that Google’s products are NOT it’s services, but it’s users. Their massive user base and associated user data is where they make the big bucks. They amassed this data by tricking us users into giving it to them and the profit margins are astonishing because we give them all of that information without being compensated one red cent. It is not this fact that put me off. Quite the contrary, it is one hell of a business model. The thing that has put me off is that they aren’t able to trick me into giving them my information for free anymore.
What do I mean by this? The way they tricked me in the past was to give me some pretty great software and services. The problem now is that I can’t remember the last time they tricked me into using a new product. They have tons a new stuff coming out, but I’m not using it. Google+ is a flop and if the rumors are true they may finally be axing it. They killed the much loved Google Reader without even a reach around and that in turn has greatly reduced my blog readership (and writership for that matter). And the changes they are making in Android, Chrome, Apps, YouTube, and other services are more often than not making those services worse rather than better.
One thing I’ve noticed is that Google has become much more invasive and forceful in their efforts. In the past they were nice enough to allow us to customize their services and software and keep things the way we wanted them to be and allowed you to share content across multiple platforms. Now they are moving more towards the Apple approach where they are locking you into a certain ecosystem and locking you into the feature set they want you to have. They are changing things for the sake of their ecosystem and not for the reasons of customer feedback or improved feature sets.
My main issue lately is a growing distrust in their reliability. It really started with the aforementioned killing off of Reader. They had killed other services before Reader, but Reader was the first one that really affected me. I used to have a set of about 25 blogs that I read on a regular basis, but when Reader went, I couldn’t find a good replacement that worked like I wanted it to work. So now I no longer read blogs. The outcry was great from the community of Reader users, but those cries were left unheard. Now I hear that cry in the back of my mind every time I use a Google service. I think, “When will Google become tired of this service and remove it?”
So I’ve decided to try to become much less reliant on Google services. I’ve already given up on Chrome and replaced it with Firefox. At some point I would like to replace my Android phone with a Windows phone, but that’s probably a few years down the road (if Windows phone is still there). I now use Bing for most of my searching. The main services I use beyond that are Google Play for my music collection, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Gmail. I’m not sure where I could put my music collection that is accessible as it is on Google Play, but there are multiple alternatives to Docs, Calendar, and Gmail and I am already exploring those. If you have any suggestions on replacements, feel free to contact me.
I don’t want this blog to become Google bashing central and my intent is not to bash Google. As a company Google is no better or worse than any other large corporation. I’m simply stating what my issues with Google are and why I am personally trying to move in another direction. The simple fact is they just aren’t capturing my enthusiasm anymore.